Woman Documents Movements of Japan’s Ruling Family
Wherever Japan's ruling family goes, you will find Fumiko Shirataki -- in summer heat and winter cold, to the ocean and to the mountains.
The only times Shirataki does not go are when it snows or rains too hard.
"You can't get good pictures then - and if the camera lens gets wet, it might get damaged. I really worry about that," she says.
For the past 26 years, Shirataki has followed and taken pictures of Emperor Akihito, Empress Michiko and especially Crown Princess Masako.
"As soon as I know their plans, I'll be there - though it's hard if I only find out the night before," she told the Reuters news agency.
Shirataki loves following the royal family. This custom is called "okkake" in Japan. She began in 1993, when she followed then-Masako Owada, before her marriage to Crown Prince Naruhito.
Shirataki, now age 78, remembers that, in the beginning, she had trouble taking good pictures.
"I wasn't used to carrying such a heavy camera, so I'd shoot the tires, or the back seat, or the driver," she said at her home in Kawasaki, near Tokyo. On the wall hangs a photo of Masako and an Imperial Family calendar.
But now she has gotten better at photography, and her house is filled with a huge number of photos.
She cannot count them. "After all, it's been 26 years," she said.
Shirataki will not say how she and others learn about where royal family members will be. But once she has the details, she loads her things, takes a folding chair and a rice ball to eat, and leaves the house.
"They know our faces by now, so when we raise the cameras I guess they think ‘here they are' and they face towards us and wave," said Shirataki.
Most Japanese who chase after the royals are female. They say their main interest is the royal women and their clothes. Shirataki has a part-time job at a car dealership and does have free time to take photos.
Up until recently, her husband was still working, but he died two years ago. Now she cannot spend as much time on photography. "I'd spend five or six days a week at this, but now I have to work," she said.
Shirataki does not want to talk about how much she spends on following the royals and taking pictures. But she will say that she spends over $400 every year just on photos.
Shirataki says Masako is her favorite royal and has even appeared in her dreams. But Shirataki worries about Masako's health. The crown princess has had health problems in recent years.
"There could be a lot of times where Masako won't go with the emperor," she said. "If it's just him, we won't go. Her alone? Yes."
Shirataki may already have reached the height of her success as a royal chaser. This year, she shook hands with the Empress.
"I've talked with them briefly before but that's the only time I'd ever been able to put out my hand ... I didn't realize I would do it," Shirataki said.
"When I asked, she just said, in a small voice, ‘If my hand is okay,'" and she added. "And then I did."
On April 30, the Japanese emperor will turn over his official duties to his son, Naruhito. There will be a new Empress Masako.
I'm Jill Robbins.
1.worry about 担心
I'll not worry about it. I'll let nature take its course.
2.put out 伸出；熄灭
The government had put out a press release naming the men.
3.turn over 移交
The King may turn over some of his official posts to his son.
4.official duties 公务；公职
His official duties kept him busy.
5."As soon as I know their plans, I'll be there - though it's hard if I only find out the night before," she told the Reuters news agency.
find out 发现
I need to find out who tried to frame me.
I hope we can find out about it.
6."As soon as I know their plans, I'll be there - though it's hard if I only find out the night before," she told the Reuters news agency.
As soon as 一...就；尽早
He got married as soon as he graduated.
As soon as we opened the front door we could smell the gas.
她说，“那样的环境拍不好照片——如果相机镜头淋湿了，可能会损坏 。我真的很担心这一点” 。
她告诉路透社，“只要知道他们的行程安排，我一定会跑到当地——尽管前一晚才得知（他们）行程对我来说跟拍有点困难 。”她补充道 。
白田喜欢跟拍皇室成员 。这一习俗在日本被称为“okkake” 。白田的这一爱好始于1993年，当时，她跟拍的是小和田雅子，那时的雅子和皇太子德仁还没有结婚 。
“我不习惯带这么重的相机，所以我拍到的都是轮胎、汽车后座或者司机，”她在位于东京附近川崎市的家中说道 。墙上挂着雅子的照片和一本皇室日历 。
这些照片多到数不清 。她说，“毕竟，拍了26年了” 。
白田不愿透露她和其他人是如何得知皇室日程的 。但是一旦她得到消息，就会把打包物品，拿一把折叠椅和一块饭团，然后匆匆离家 。
在日本，大多数跟拍皇室成员的人是女性 。她们称，主要是对皇室女性以及她们的服装感兴趣 。白田在一家汽车经销店做兼职，也有空闲时间拍照 。
她丈夫于两年前去世，他在去世之前仍在坚持工作 。如今，她无法花大量的时间拍照 。她说：“我每周会花五六天时间（去追星），但现在我必须工作赚钱 。”
白田不愿谈论在跟随皇室成员和拍照方面的开销 。但她表示，每年仅在照片上的花费就有400多美元 。
白田说，雅子是她最喜欢的皇室成员，甚至还梦到过 。但是白田担心雅子的健康状况 。太子妃近年来一直有健康问题 。
“很多时候，雅子不会与天皇一起出行，”她说 。“如果只有天皇，我们就不去 。如果她独自出行？当然要去 。”
作为皇室的忠实粉丝，白田可能已经达到了人生的巅峰 。今年，她与皇后（美智子）握了手 。
“当我问她时，她只是很小声地说，‘若你不介意我的手的话，’”她补充说 。“然后我就成功了 。”
4月30日，日本天皇将让位给儿子德仁皇太子 。雅子也将被封为皇后 。